by Coach Gianni Mininni
The air around our planet, moves as a unit and, sooner or later, we all breath the same air. The same is true for water. After evaporation, rain, rivers, seas and oceans, in our lifetime we all drink the same water.
I’d like to believe that the same happens with the grass. Grass is basically water and air so, sooner or later we all step on the same soccer /football grassy field on which Pele, Maradona, Beckham, Messi, Ronaldo, Baggio or Ronaldinho played or are still playing, just to mention a few.
Where am I going with this?
I want to demonstrate that when we step over the chalk line and enter a soccer field, it’s NOT JUST A PIECE OF GRASSY AREA. It’s a place where the greatest players ever were doing their magic and it’s an honor to step on the same grass.
On a soccer field, we’re allowed to do things, like push shoulder to shoulder, fight hard in order to win the ball back, that only a few yards away from the field, would get us………………………… arrested!
Did you ever realize this?
On that grassy rectangle we’re allowed to act differently from the accepted rules of civilized co-existence and it’s fundamental to understand that difference.
When we step on a soccer field, but it could be any sport field, we go out of the accepted daily rules. That rectangle puts us in a different reality and for 90 minutes we’re out of time. The sooner we realize this the better it will be and the better we’ll perform.
How many youth players, in their minds, are still in their warm bed at 9 in the morning, while they’re on the field playing a game that has already started 10 minutes ago?
How many youth players, for the first 15/20 minutes of the game, in their minds, are still in the car on the way to the field?
It’s really hard to enter into the spirit of the game in the U.S. because there is no ‘transition’ though the LOCKER ROOM. But this, after having warmed up for minimum 30 minutes on fundamentals skills, could be avoided with the right ritual for entering the soccer field:
-Line your team up outside the side line.
-When the players are ready, take a long step ACROSS the side line and enter onto the field and say out loud …………………”soccer field” !!!!!
-Explain that, NOW, we’re no longer in the daily world. We’re in a space in which different rules are made for the next 90 minutes. It’s O.K. to attack the opponent hard (without hurting anyone) to win the ball back. It’s O.K. not to be kind (without being rude) in steeling the ball.
-After the game, do the opposite in stepping off of the field. Allow your kids, or your players in general, not to be soccer/football players anymore when the game is finished. The aggressiveness stays on the field and our children go back to being kids who enjoy their carefree existence.
A soccer field is a kind of time machine where the future challenges of real life are there every second. Succeeding on ‘that rectangle’, will surely help to face the challenges of real life that will come very fast in a few years.